Happiness, Wisdom or Hormones?

Researchers in endocrinology have shown that hormones deeply affect the way we feel. You get frightened by a car you didn’t see, and in a fraction of a second your body is flushed with adrenaline, the survival hormone. A night with the person you love and the hormone oxytocin takes over your physiology and you feel like you’re walking on clouds. A good meditation session and serotonin makes you feel calm and peaceful. Is the way we feel only the result of our hormones?

According to Dr. Thierry Jansen, our genes predispose us to be receptive to certain hormones. Some people have genes that make them more easily receptive to serotonin. These people will tend to stress less than others who don’t have the same aptitude to transport the relaxing hormones within the cells. Hormones affect so much our mood that a significant part of the pharmaceutical industry focuses on psychotropic hormonal drugs (anti-depression, anxiolytics). Are hormones the solution to our (un)happiness? No!

Dr. Jansen notes that it is mainly our beliefs and culture that will determine how we react to given events. The mind filters our experiences and will favour the secretion of certain hormones over others. Meditation can lower stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and improve the immune system. Studies have shown that meditation is successfully being used to help people with depression and anxiety without the side effects and relapses associated with hormonal medical treatment. We can, through meditation but also through constructive thinking and an increased perspective of our life experience, change our physiology.

So in conclusion, is happiness and the way we feel the result of our hormones or is the result of our mind and wisdom? If hormones can deeply affect the way we feel, it is only our mind that can, in the long term, transform our physiology to make us happy-friendly.

Source: Nouvelles Cles, October-November 2010